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10 English Lower League Teams to Manage on FM22

10 English Lower League Teams to Manage on FM22

10 English lower league teams to manage in FM22 as your new save. Can you climb the pyramid?


“Ei Ei Ei O, Up The Football League we go”. A song that flows nicely on away or home terraces at many a lower league football ground when one’s team is in the delightful position of leading in a match. 

The English football league pyramid is arguably the most prestigious on the planet with attendances sometimes exceeding 10,000 for fourth-tier EFL League Two matches.

So to celebrate and cherish this brilliant league pyramid, here are 10 English lower league new save ideas to do on Football Manager 2022.

Portsmouth FC


Portsmouth FC FM22

The first new save idea comes courtesy of Southern England and in the shape of a former English league champion in the shape of Portsmouth FC. Founded in 1898, Pompey as they are affectionately known by supporters were crowned back-to-back English league champions in the 1948/49 and 1949/50 seasons.

The club also became famous in the 1938/39 season as they won the FA Cup, defeating Wolverhampton Wanderers by a score of 4-1 in the final at Wembley. Due to World War Two breaking out shortly afterwards, Pompey then held the FA Cup for a total of seven years until when Derby County won the 1946 FA Cup final. Reports state that during the war, for safety purposes the FA Cup won by Pompey was evacuated to the nearby Hampshire village of Lovedean.

The club won their 2nd FA Cup in 2007/08 defeating Cardiff City in the final. However, financial problems surfaced shortly afterwards and since then Pompey have tumbled out of the Premier League and played in all three of the Football League’s divisions. After a four-season period of supporter ownership under the Pompey Supporters Trust between 2013 and 2017, Pompey were purchased by former Walt Disney CEO Michael Eisner and his Tornante Company investment group.

Can you lead Pompey, currently playing in the 3rd tier EFL League One back to the Premier League or go one better by winning another domestic cup competition or league title in FM 22?

READ ALSO: 10 Non-English Lower League challenges to do on FM22  

Sheffield Wednesday FC


Sheffield Wednesday FM22

We stay in EFL League One for the next new English lower league save idea and like the aforementioned save with Pompey, this is another club with huge potential for you to take up the football pyramid in the shape of Sheffield Wednesday FC. Founded in 1867 as The Wednesday Football Club, The Owls as they are affectionately known changed to their current name in 1929.

Wednesday have won all three domestic trophy honours in England. The club are four times English champions (1902/03, 1903/04, 1928/29 & 1929/30). In addition, The Owls have won three FA Cup titles (1895/96, 1906/07 & 1934/35) and won their solitary EFL Cup in 1990/91, famously defeating Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United 1-0 in the final courtesy of a John Sheridan goal.

In the two seasons either side of the establishment of the Premier League in the summer of 1992, Wednesday endured a modern-day “golden era”. In addition to the EFL Cup victory in 1990/91, the 1991/92 season saw The Owls finish 3rd in the English top-flight whilst in 1992/93, the club reached the final of both the FA and EFL Cup competitions, losing both to Arsenal FC.

However, Wednesday have endured a long period of decline from those glory days at the beginning of the 1990’s. The club were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 1999/2000 season and have yet to return to the top flight. Can you now revive The Owls’ fortunes in FM 2022? Take them back to the Premier League, maybe win them some trophies?


Bradford City AFC


Bradford City FM22

We drop into EFL League Two now for our next team to manage and once more it is another former Premier League club with tonnes of potential for a fun new FM22 save. Bradford City were founded in 1903 and just eight years later The Bantams, as they are affectionately known won their only major trophy to date, the 1910/11 FA Cup.

At the turn of the millennium, Bradford once again came to the attention of the wider footballing world when they won promotion to the 1999/00 Premier League after finishing 2nd in the 1998/99 EFL Championship. Tipped for a swift return to the second tier, The Bantams under young manager Paul Jewell defied the odds brilliantly by surviving on the final day of the season courtesy of a 1-0 home victory at Valley Parade against Liverpool FC.

The 2000/01 season saw Bradford kick off their campaign in European competition courtesy of the UEFA Intertoto Cup. After seeing off FK Atlantas and RKC Waalwijk in the second and third rounds, The Bantams then lost to Zenit St Petersburg in the semi-finals. Intriguingly in this semi-final match, a certain Andrei Arshavin made his Zenit debut. It was an unsuccessful second season in the Premier League for Bradford though as they were relegated, finishing bottom of the table.

The club have yet to return to the English top-flight since then and have like Portsmouth played at all three levels of the EFL pyramid. However, with frequent home attendances over 15,000 at League Two level, the potential of this club is there for all to see. Can you lead Bradford back to the top flight after twenty seasons away?

Exeter City FC


Exeter City FM22

Staying in EFL League Two for the next FM22 challenge, we head to the highest-placed majority-supporter owned club in English football in the shape of Exeter City. After its foundation in 2000, The Exeter City Supporters Trust just three years later purchased the club in September 2003 just after the club had been relegated out of the Football League after an unbroken spell of 83 seasons.

Founded in 1904, The Grecians have never played above the third tier of the English football pyramid. Their highest ever finish was 2nd place in the 1932/33 Football League Third Division South, the then name for EFL League One.

Outside of England however, Exeter are probably most famous for their 1914 tour to South America. In June and July of that year, the club played matches against both Argentine and Brazilian club sides and both nations’ international sides. The match against Brazil’s international side is widely reported as the Selecao’s first-ever match.

The Exeter City Supporters Trust currently own a 53.6% majority stake in the club, so how far can you take a majority-supporter owned club up the English football pyramid? Obvious targets to achieve include reaching the 2nd tier EFL Championship for the first-ever time and then maybe even a debut Premier League appearance after that?

RELATED: Football Manager 2022 Logos Megapack  

Sutton United


Sutton United FM22

The next challenge is yet another club in League Two, Sutton United. Based in the town of Sutton in South London and founded in 1898, The Yellows as they are affectionately known were a non-league football club since their formation until the end of the 2020/21 season. At the end of this campaign, Sutton won the fifth-tier National League title and thus won promotion to League Two for the 2021/22 campaign, marking Sutton’s debut as a Football League club.

Despite their exclusively non-league history, Sutton came to mainstream media attention on several occasions in the past. The club won the now-defunct Anglo-Italian Cup in 1978/79 when it was a semi-professional competition. In addition, the club famously reached the 5th Round of the 2016/17 FA Cup where they narrowly lost 2-0 to Premier League giants Arsenal FC.

However, the most famous day in Sutton United’s history came on January 7th 1989 in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Sutton, at their Gander Green Lane home stadium and then a fifth tier club defeated top division outfit Coventry City by a score of 2-1. Matthew Hanlan’s 59th minute winner sealing victory for Sutton in what is often referred to as one of the greatest FA Cup shocks ever.

Now that they are a Football League Club at long last, how far can you take Sutton United up the pyramid?

Southend United


Southend United FM22

We head into English non-league (tier five and below) for the next save and to a club playing their first ever season in non-league in the English pyramid, that club is Southend United. Founded in 1906, The Shrimpers as they are colloquially known first entered into the English Football League in 1920/21 when they formed the new third tier Third Division.

The highest level the club has ever played at is the second tier EFL Championship, where throughout the entirety of their history, Southend have spent seven seasons, a six consecutive season stint between 1991/92 and 1996/97 and a one year spell in 2006/07. The club’s highest-ever finish in the second tier was a 12th place finish in 1991/92.

At the end of the 2020/21 campaign, Southend were relegated from EFL League Two to the fifth tier non-league National League, ending an unbroken 101-year spell in the Football League. This one will be a long save, but how far can you take the Shrimpers in FM 22?

RELATED: Top 6 Tips to Win the Vanarama National League  

Wrexham FC


Wrexham  FM22

Staying in the fifth tier National League, the next club to take charge of is Wrexham FC. The Red Dragons were founded in 1864 and are the fourth oldest professional football club in the world. Wrexham are one of five Welsh clubs to play in the English football league pyramid, a batch of clubs known amongst Welsh football fans as “The Exiles”. The other four being Swansea City, Cardiff City, Newport County and Merthyr Town.

From 1921/22 to 2007/08, Wrexham were a member of the English Football League. In addition, for many years until the Welsh exile clubs were prohibited from competing in the Welsh Cup, Wrexham managed to win this competition 23 times. The first of these came in 1877/78 and the last in 1994/95. This allowed The Red Dragons to qualify for European competition several times through the UEFA Cup Winners Cup.

In 2011, three years after their relegation out of the Football League, Wrexham were purchased by the Wrexham Supporters Trust and thus became a fan-owned club. However, the club with the exception of a play-off semi-final loss to Luton in 2011/12 and a play-off final loss to Newport in 2012/13 have rarely come close to regaining their former Football League status.

However, currently, things are a-changing at Wrexham. In February 2021, the club was officially acquired from the Wrexham Supporters Trust after the trust’s approval by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The new owners were recently spotted watching Wrexham in an away match against Maidenhead United and have grand plans to take Wrexham up the English football pyramid. Can you be the manager to realise these ambitions?

Bradford Park Avenue AFC


Bradford Park FM22

For our next club in this FM 22 challenge, we drop down to the sixth tier National League North/South, the first level of regionalised football competition in England. It is to the Northern group of the two where we go and curiously back to the city of Bradford, where your new save sees you take charge of Bradford Park Avenue AFC.

Founded in 1907, four years after city rivals Bradford City, Bradford Park Avenue were members of the English Football League between 1908 and 1970 when they dropped down into non-league and were replaced in the Football League by Cambridge United. Four years after dropping out of the Football League in 1974, the club was liquidated and had to re-form as a phoenix club at the bottom of the English football pyramid.

The new club has climbed up the football pyramid gradually and has played at National League North level since 2012/13. A part-time semi-professional club, Bradford Park Avenue are also registered as a community benefit society and is 100% owned by its supporters. This should be a fun non-league save, can you get Bradford Park Avenue back into the Football League after an absence of more than 50 years? Once there, could you displace Bradford City as the top club in Bradford?

RELATED: Football Manager 2022 Real Names Fix  

York City FC


York City FM22

Staying in National League North for the penultimate challenge on this list we actually stay in the county of Yorkshire but heading an hour’s drive North East we arrive at the city of York and its football club York City FC. Originally founded in 1908, the current incarnation of the football club was re-formed in 1922 and joined the English Football League for the 1929/30 season.

York City or The Minstermen as they are referred to by spectators spent a total of 75 seasons in the Football League between 1929/30 and 2003/04 when they were relegated to non-league. Arguably the club’s most famous result occurred in the 1995/96 season when in the Second Round of the EFL Cup (then two-legged), York defeated Manchester United 4-3 on aggregate. This shock score-line included a 3-0 win in the first leg at Old Trafford.

After nine seasons in the fifth tier, York finally returned to the Football League by winning the 2011/12 National League play-off final. However, the club were relegated to non-league once again at the end of the 2015/16 season. This quickly became a double relegation in 2016/17 when the club dropped to the sixth tier National League North, a level which they remain at to this day.

Are you the manager to revive York’s fortunes in Football Manager 2022? The Minstermen recently moved to a new 8,900 capacity stadium and whilst watching their fortunes fade had to watch nearby Harrogate Town reach the Football League. Can you take York City back to the Football League and re-establish the club as the top club in North Yorkshire by getting ahead of Harrogate Town once more?

Bath City FC


Bath City FM22

The final club on this list is another playing at level six of the English football pyramid, however, this time from the National League South as opposed to National League North in the shape of Bath City FC. Just like the aforementioned Bradford Park Avenue, Bath City are a semi-professional side and are currently majority-owned by their supporters (54.6%).

The Stripes as they are affectionately known due to their black and white striped shirts were founded in 1889 and have played the entirety of their history at a non-league level, never advancing beyond tier five of the English footballing pyramid. Intriguingly though, Bath City have been twice finalists in the Anglo-Italian Cup in back-to-back years (1976/77 and 1977/78). In the first of these finals, along the way, Bath City defeated former Serie A clubs Parma Calcio and SSC Bari.

Admittedly Bath is a city which prefers the sport of Rugby Union over Football with Bath Rugby being one of the largest and most famous clubs in the English Rugby Union pyramid. However, this is where you come in. Brace yourself for a long save and a great challenge, but can you take Bath City to a historic Football League promotion? Turn this Rugby-mad city into a football stronghold?

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FM Blog: 10 English Lower League Teams to Manage on FM22
10 English Lower League Teams to Manage on FM22
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